Jun 16, 2014
02:01 PMArts & Entertainment
Connecticut Summer Solstice Bash Features Mojito King at 'Club Babalu'
The Washington Art Association, nestled near the scenic Shepaug River in the heart of Litchfield County’s most urbane rural locus of fine living, has a storied past. Founded in 1952 by a group of local artists seeking to “nurture creative life in and around Litchfield County,” WAA saw world-class artists (and area residents) like Alexander Calder, André Masson and Yves Tanguy participating in early shows.
More than six decades later, WAA remains at the heart of the region’s artistic life, and its exhibits and classes are gilded by an annual holiday sale and an ongoing series of compelling events. The most fun and festive of all is the Summer Solstice Celebration, which is being held on Saturday, June 21.
WAA will be transformed into “Club Babalu,” a chic nightspot featuring Latin beats, Samba dancing, tropical cuisine and Cuban cocktails courtesy of the libations ringmaster Abdo Ballester (right).
“It’s the best party this side of Havana,” says Ballester, who will make his “triumphant return” as the irrepressible Mojito King, famous for mixing the evening’s signature Cuban rum drinks, made according to a secret family recipe.
“I’ve been making them off and on for … forever,” the Cuban-American Ballester told the Litchfield County Times last year as he prepared for the WAA party with a demonstration of how he marries sugar and fresh mint to release the natural mint oil, before adding quality rum, club soda and lemon juice to yield the equivalent of the national drink of Cuba.
This year’s festivities will begin at 6 p.m., when guests will be able to purchase paintings, prints, pottery, glass and other original artworks at bargain prices from the studios of local artists as part of the WAA’s annual Atelier Sale.
Ballester, a release on the event says, is also planning a Caribbean-themed menu with chefs from The Mayflower Grace, Winvian, Community Table Restaurant, John’s Café, The Pantry, Carole Peck’s Good News Café, and G.W. Tavern, among others.
Back by popular demand is the Cuban sandwich, served hot off the sandwich iron, wrapped in a banana leaf with a heap of impossibly crisp plantain chips on the side.
All of that will be enlivened by the 7 Mile Aisle Steel Drum Band. Tickets are $45 per person. All proceeds benefit the Washington Art Association. WAA is located in Bryan Memorial Plaza in Washington.